Moving to Mexico: Transitioning from Tourist to Resident

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My wife and I had vacationed in Mexico over 30 times before we finally ended up moving here full time in 2015.

Although we were very familiar with the Riviera Maya — at least from a tourist’s point of view — visiting a place and living there are two very different things. Moving to a new country is a huge adjustment and there is definitely a substantial learning curve to work through.

For those of you who are pondering making the move, I’m going to share some insight in to what you might expect if you move down.

The First Six Months

The first six months will likely be the most exciting, and at times frustrating period of your transition.

You’ll undoubtedly arrive eager to get established quickly (everyone does) and that’s where enthusiasm can easily turn into frustration. You’ll become aware that your timeline to get established (e.g. obtain visas, buy furniture, get bank accounts) is not realistic and everything is going to take much longer than you anticipated.

You’ll soon learn that when someone tells you that they will do it mañana it doesn’t mean tomorrow, it means someday. Don’t get frustrated…..just be patient and things will eventually get done.

If you don’t speak Spanish, that will only slow the process further and you’ll find yourself communicating through Google Translate and sign language. One friend of ours who had only been here for a week said that she felt like an infant because she didn’t know how to do anything and she couldn’t talk to anyone.

Depending where you move to, you might feel a little lonely and isolated. That didn’t happen to us because we moved to an area with a substantial English-speaking expat population. Once we met one or two of them, they introduced us to dozens of other expats.

During this time, it’s not unusual for people to get a little discouraged and question their decision to move to Mexico. The important thing is to remember that this transition period is only temporary and that it will get better — much better, in fact.

The Second Six Months

By this point, you’ll be getting into the swing of things and you have several tasks marked off of your to-do list. You’ll stop questioning why the milk and eggs are not refrigerated at the grocery store and you’ll be more comfortable in your new surroundings.

You’ll have more time to explore and find cool places outside of the tourist areas. You’ll be more relaxed in your surroundings and spend more time enjoying yourself.

After the First Year

Once you have a year under your belt, you should be well established in your new home, have several friends, and be receiving locals discounts at your favorite hangouts. You’ll probably have several local contacts on your Whatsapp list, including your doctor, and be offering advice to newly arrived expats.

This is when Mexico truly feels like home and you no longer question if moving to Mexico was the right decision.

Personally speaking, our second year was 100% better than our first — and the first one was pretty awesome. We’re now working on our third, and so far, it’s a best year yet!

Let’s Wrap This Up

When Linda and I moved to Mexico, we promised to give it one year before making the decision whether or not to stay forever. Of course, it didn’t take that long but that doesn’t mean that it was a seamless transition. We worked through the phases described above and it was all 100% worth it.

If you’re planning on moving to Mexico from another country, it’s important to come with an open mind, patience and a positive attitude toward change — because you will encounter a lot of it.

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Expatriates in Mexico: what’s the attraction?

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By Mexico News Daily

Study examines why people moved to Mexico and whether expectations were met

Why do expatriates move to Mexico? Weather, cost of living and a simpler lifestyle were the top reasons offered by the vast majority of expats contacted for a new survey.

Expats in Medico: A Research Study found too that most of those who relocated to Mexico saw their expectations met and were happy they moved.

Completed by 1,129 expats, the survey offers insight into the motivations, expectations, concerns, experiences and opinions of people who have moved to Mexico to live, either to continue working or to retire.

The study was conducted and published by Best Places in the World to Retire, which describes the report as “a must-read” for anyone considering moving to Mexico.

“This study contains the answers to the most basic, most interesting questions about people moving to Mexico. Why did they do it? What were their expectations? What were their fears? What surprised them? How did it all turn out?” said Chuck Bolotin of Best Places in the World to Retire.

By all accounts it worked out well for most.

There were three clear-cut winners among the reasons why expats decided to move to Mexico: over 80% of respondents cited better weather, a lower cost of living or a desire to have a simpler, less stressful life.

The next three reasons cited — albeit at considerably lower percentages — were a desire to have a less materialistic, more meaningful life, a more romantic, exotic or adventurous life or to have better access to less expensive, quality health care.

Other, more specific factors were revealed in respondents’ comments.

“I wanted some place where I could easily return to the United States,” said one Mazatlán resident, while an expat living in Puerto Vallarta cited “freedom, fewer rules, regulations and red tape,” as the main reason he decided to move to Mexico.  

As for the reality, over 80% said that they had achieved a lower cost of living and enjoyed better weather but the third top reason cited for moving to Mexico — the desire to have a simpler, less stressful life — proved slightly more elusive with just over 75% saying they had actually achieved it.

Still, a significant majority of people responded that they had achieved their motivating goals for moving to Mexico, indicating that most were happy with their decision to move.

Interestingly, women reported that they had achieved their goals at higher rates than men.

While the vast majority of comments about living in Mexico were overwhelmingly positive, there were some negative responses. One Yucatán resident said bureaucratic processes “can really try your patience” while another in Baja California Sur complained that the cost of living was high, specifically citing electricity and water costs.

Overall, the survey data showed that most people’s expectations were largely met and in many cases exceeded, especially with regard to access to high quality, low-cost health care.

However, living a simpler, more stressful life was one exception as a lower percentage actually achieved the goal compared to the percentage of people who cited it as a motivation for moving to Mexico, although the difference was minimal.

In respondents’ comments, working expatriates cited having a healthier work-life balance as an advantage of living in Mexico while many also stressed the emphasis placed on spending time with family as a positive aspect of the Mexican culture.

The survey found that respondents’ primary concern about moving to Mexico was not being able to communicate. Thirty-one per cent said they were worried they would not be able to speak or learn Spanish or get by in their daily life with only English.

However, the same percentage said they were not worried about any of the concerns suggested by the survey.

The next biggest concerns were missing family and friends, underdeveloped infrastructure, health care accessibility and insecurity, although it is worth noting that none of those issues worried more than a quarter of those polled.

“I didn’t have any worries . . . I don’t believe in borders so I thought, if Mexicans can live here, we should be able to as well,” said a resident of Puerto Vallarta, while others said that previous visits or research they had done prior to moving allayed any fears they might have otherwise had.

Just over 70% of respondents said that none of the fears or concerns they had about living in Mexico came true. Slightly more than 10% said they missed first world goods and services while just under 10% said that infrastructure including internet, roads and electricity was substandard.

All other concerns registered single-digit percentages of around 5% or less and notably, just 3.3% of respondents said the ability to communicate remained a concern for them after they became established in their new home.

Only 4.5% said security was a concern despite statistics indicating that this year is likely to be Mexico’s most violent in two decades.

One respondent said, “. . . having lived in Mexico for over 10 years I can tell you Sonora is safer than Arizona,” making a similar point to the Baja California tourism secretary who recently said that tourists are safer in Baja California than California.

A Yucatán resident said that living in Mérida “is fast becoming more and more like living in Florida.”

A resounding 76.5% responded “very much yes” when asked whether they would make the same decision to move to Mexico if given the opportunity to do so while a further 16% said “probably.”

“I don’t know” and “probably not” both came in at under 4% of respondents and just 1.6% responded “absolutely not” to the question.

A recurring comment from respondents was a recommendation to potential new expats to rent in Mexico initially before deciding whether or not to buy a house.

Over half of respondents said that living in Mexico was much better than they expected and when combined with those who said that it was a little better, the proportion reached almost three-quarters of those surveyed.

Around 22% said it was about the same as they expected and less than 4% of respondents said that living in Mexico was a lot worse or a little worse than expected.

One Puerto Vallarta resident said that “other than the drug wars, it’s better than I expected” while another respondent complained that “the biggest problem in Mexico is the expat folks that want to fix Mexico.”

Over 80% of people said that they enjoyed life in Mexico “much more” or “a little more” than in their country of origin while the same percentage also said they were “a lot less” or “a little less” stressed living in Mexico. A similar percentage said they were “much happier” or “somewhat happier” living in Mexico.

Is anyone planning to go home?

Forty-one per cent said they had no plans to return to their country of origin and just under 40% said they hadn’t made any plans or were unsure. Just over 7% said they either planned to return soon or in the next five years while 13% said they would only return whey they were very old or if they were sick.

Among the comments: “spread my ashes out there with the whales” from a resident of Puerto Vallarta while a Lake Chapala expat said, “the Mexican culture honors the elderly and treats them with so much compassion.”

Several other respondents cited improved medical services as a factor that would enable them to stay longer in Mexico.

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Health and Medical Insurance Options for Mexico

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By Mexperience

Mexico’s public health service does not have reciprocal agreements with any other country, and US Medicare is not available here so visitors and foreign residents need to make specific provision for their health care needs.  In the event of an incident that requires healthcare or medical attention, you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket, or arrange a health or medical insurance policy that is valid in Mexico and provide suitable cover for you and your partner/family in the event of an accident or illness.  This article explains the various options for visitors, extended stays, and foreign residents.

Health Insurance for Short Visits to Mexico

If you’re visiting Mexico for a short period – on a vacation or short business trip, for example – travel insurance policies arranged in your country of residence which cover you for a limited time while you’re away from home should suffice.  These might be provided by your current healthcare provider (but double-check the small print), through an employer’s health plan if you’re here on a short business visit, or through purchase of a short-trip travel insurance product.  You can learn more about short-term travel health insurance on our guide to insurance in Mexico.

Health Insurance for Extended Stays in Mexico

If you plan to be in Mexico for an extended stay, but don’t intent to take-up residence in Mexico – for example, you might take a sabbatical, a volunteer job, or plan to stay in Mexico for six months or less – then a short-term travel insurance policy might not cover your needs.  In these circumstances, you may consider a private health insurance policy that covers you locally and, if you retain health coverages in your home country, you might also consider taking out a medical evacuation plan in the event of a serious medical incident that requires you to be flown home for treatment and recovery.

Health Insurance for Foreign Residents in Mexico

Short term health and medical insurance products designed for visitors to Mexico often require you to be resident in the country where the policy is issued.  If you intend to apply for, or have, residency in Mexico, then you should check the small print of your policy as many products will not cover you for long stays here and/or if you are not ordinarily resident in your home country. (If they do, you will probably need to evacuate to your home country to avail yourself of the service.)

Mexico’s IMSS Medical Insurance

Foreign residents (temporary or permanent) can apply for the Mexican public healthcare insurance system known an IMSS on a voluntary basis which provides access to certain doctors, clinics and hospitals in Mexico.  Some medications are also covered under this plan.  Coverage costs depend on your age; restrictions and limitations apply and, like all publicly-funded healthcare systems, patient demand is usually higher than the supply of services, so you may have to wait for care. (Note also that people who are enrolled in IMSS through an employer get priority over those who enroll voluntarily.)  

Private Medical Insurance in Mexico

Most foreign residents who can afford to do so will take out a private medical insurance plan that covers their personal needs and gives them direct access to private doctors, clinics and hospitals in Mexico.  Policies are crafted to the individual situation of the person, couple, or family, and premiums depend on things like your age, term of coverage, coverages included, and the deductible you are willing to pay in the event of a claim.  You can complete this health insurance request and our associate will contact you personally to discuss your situation and needs, and provide a no-obligation quote for you to review.

Medical Evacuation from Mexico

If you are resident part-time in Mexico and continue to have health coverage back home, then you might consider a medical evacuation plan to enable you to get home for treatment and to convalesce close to your own doctors and family in the event that you experience a serious accident or health event (e.g. heart attack) while you are here.

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Comparing The Best Of Mexico: Puerto Vallarta Vs. Mazatlán

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By Lee Harrison | live and invest overseas

Best Beach On Mexico’s Pacific Coast?

One of the questions I hear most frequently is why I chose to live in Mazatlán, rather than the better-known Puerto Vallarta. In fact, even here at Live and Invest Overseas, Puerto Vallarta gets more coverage and higher ratings.

So why choose Mazatlán? Let’s compare the two.

In Some Ways, Both Destinations Are Quite Similar

Both Puerto Vallarta (PV) and Mazatlán enjoy choice spots on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with good access to the United States and Canada.

Both cities are longtime tourism destinations, which has both positive and negative consequences. For example, the touristy “Romantic Zone” in Puerto Vallarta is about the least romantic environment I’ve ever seen… similar to Mazatlán’s Golden Zone. 

PV and Mazatlán also both offer numerous, varied lifestyle options for the part-year resident, vacation homeowner, or full-time expat. They have good residential property inventories and can be great places to manage a rental.

English is widely spoken in both cities, and both are popular among American and Canadian expats.

The infrastructure is good in both PV and Mazatlán, not only for the practical stuff (water, electricity, cable, internet, etc.), but also with respect to tourism infrastructure, with restaurants, nightlife, and activities.

The cost of living is close between PV and Mazatlán in the expat areas. The statistical data I found claims Mazatlán to be a bit cheaper, but only by 11% overall. In many categories, they’re too close to call. Mazatlán has a “real” city behind the coastal areas in which you can live very inexpensively. But, since expats almost never live there, I don’t think it’s fair to include those areas in a cost analysis.

Both cities can be very walkable if you settle in the right place—many expats live without a car. And both cities offer tranquil beachfront neighborhoods, which are completely residential and free from the trappings of tourism.

Finally, the cost of living is very low right now in both places, thanks to a U.S. dollar that’s very strong by historic standards. Based on exchange rates, the U.S. dollar has about 79% more buying power than it had in 2008. And the Canadian dollar is also near record highs against the Mexican peso.

And, of course, both cities benefit from Mexico’s super-easy residency. I got my resident’s visa at a consulate in about 20 minutes without translations, background checks, or document certifications. And you may not even need residency with Mexico’s long, six-month tourist stays.

But Mazatlán And Puerto Vallarta Differ In Important Ways

Here are some areas where the cities are different, along with my opinion as to which is better.

Beaches and Boardwalk

Mazatlán wins this category, with miles of contiguous beaches. Compared to those in PV, they’re larger and relatively uncrowded. The longest beach, at three miles long (almost 5 km), is along Avenida del Mar. There’s no construction on the beach, making it 100% accessible from the boardwalk. The Cerritos beach is also three miles long.

At five miles (8 km), Mazatlán’s boardwalk (malecón) is claimed to be the longest uninterrupted boardwalk in the world.

Restaurants, Cafés, and Nightlife

Puerto Vallarta takes this one easily. Even though Mazatlán is almost twice the size of Puerto Vallarta, PV has far more restaurants and cafés of the type an expat or visitor would seek out.

Make no mistake: Both cities have plenty of fine dining, cafés, casual beachfront restaurants, and night spots. But PV probably doubles Mazatlán’s offering.

Cultural Scene

I give this one to Mazatlán. With the Angela Peralta Theater, a symphony orchestra, chamber music groups, the Sunday concert series, and Friday Art Walk, Mazatlán offers plenty of cultural activity. Mazatlán’s carnaval celebration is the third largest in the hemisphere, after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans’s Mardi Gras.

Ocean Views and Scenery

This category goes handily to Puerto Vallarta. PV is bordered by mountains to the east, and its elevation rises rapidly as you go inland. This provides for a wealth of magnificent ocean and sunset views from a number of areas. In Mazatlán, the only way to get views like this is to have a place on the ocean or on one of two very small and crowded coastal hills.

Also, the hills around Puerto Vallarta (and heading south) are thick, green, and lush, while the area surrounding Mazatlán is dry and brown during much of the winter high season.

Weather

High temperatures are somewhat higher in Puerto Vallarta than in Mazatlán. In August, for example, Mazatlán averages 88°F (31°C), while PV comes in at 93°F (34°C). Mazatlán, however, tends to be more humid than PV, so it won’t feel much different.

Puerto Vallarta gets more rain than Mazatlán, with 55 inches of rain (1,392 mm) falling on 75 days of the year. Mazatlán gets only 32 inches (800 mm), with rainfall seen on just 46 days.

But PV’s increased rainfall is what makes the area so green and lush, so I see this as a benefit.

To me, the weather between the two cities is a wash, in a practical way. If you’re here (in either city) in the summer, you’ll want air conditioning… if you’re here in the winter, you’ll throw the windows open and enjoy the sunshine.

Historic Colonial Center

Here I prefer Mazatlán. The historic center is large, active, and in pretty good shape. It’s undergone a dramatic restoration in recent years and is still improving. Plazuela Machado, the colonial town square, is unlike anything I’ve seen, with its historic buildings, outdoor dining, and large, renowned theater.

In Mazatlán, the historic center is miles from the Golden Zone, Mazatlán’s main tourist area.

The city’s old-fashioned, “non-tourist” central market is still thriving, as is its newer Saturday farmers’ market, an enormous flower market, and a bustling shrimp market (shrimp is a big industry in Mazatlán).

Most full-time expats live in Mazatlán’s historic center.

LGBT Lifestyle

Puerto Vallarta wins this category, for sure. PV is known to be the most gay-friendly city in Mexico. But PV is more than just gay-friendly… and gay people are more than just “accepted” or “welcomed.” Here it can feel like being gay is the norm.

You’ll see same-sex couples, both male and female, of all ages and nationalities.

I suppose there are gay people and same-sex couples in Mazatlán, too. But I haven’t personally seen any public displays of affection or anyone who appeared to be a same-sex couple. Mazatlán is more of a Mexican destination than an international resort, and their traditional conservatism shows in this area.

Outdoor Activities

PV definitely wins this category. If you enjoy outdoor activities, PV (and the nearby jungle) offers plenty. You’ll find quads, buggies, zip-lining, fly boarding, bungee jumping, etc.

And they make booking easy, with agents and kiosks all over town.

In Mazatlán, the biggest outdoor attraction is sportfishing, perhaps followed by golf… both of which you’ll find in PV, too.

Access to the United States and Canada

Here it depends on whether you’re driving or flying.

Mazatlán is a day’s drive closer to the U.S. border, with a drive time of about 13.5 hours. Many seasonal residents from the north drive down in the autumn and drive back in the springtime.

But PV has far better nonstop flight service to both the States and Canada.

  • Puerto Vallarta nonstops: 17 to the United States, 15 to Canada
  • Mazatlán nonstops: 4 to the United States, 5 to Canada

Real Estate

I give this one to Mazatlán.

Studies have shown that PV has the most expensive real estate market in Mexico, But this is a bit misleading. You have to realize that PV is weighted heavily with resort/expat properties, so it doesn’t compare well on nationwide samples that include cities (like Mazatlán) with large, working-class neighborhoods.

Mazatlán is mostly a Mexican market. In the vacation-home market (excluding the other parts of town), about 65% of the buyers are Mexican. Of the remainder, 60% are Canadian.

If you want a condo directly on the sand, PV prices will appear very expensive. But that’s mostly because the new luxury offerings (on the sand) tend to be larger in PV than in Mazatlán. On a cost-per-square-meter basis, PV is only about 6% higher. In both cities, I looked at new, high-end construction, both on the beach and outside of town.

But in the historic center, it was a far different story. I found three front-line condos for sale in Puerto Vallarta, ranging in price from US$600k to US$1.3 million. The cost per square meter averaged US$3,662.

Then I found a brand-new luxury building on the seafront in Mazatlán’s historic center. The average price here is under US$370,000, which works out to US$1,623 per square meter.

Back To The Original Question

So why did we pick Mazatlán? It was mostly the attraction of the walkable historic center and all the amenities it offers… including the fact that the historic center is miles from the main tourist area in Mazatlán.

And, importantly, it’s possible to buy a beachfront property in the historic center, which is rare… so you can enjoy the advantages of both.

Also, Mazatlán is primarily a Mexican resort. On any given night in the historic center, I’d say 95% of the people on the boardwalk are from Mexico. And while there’s a strong expat presence, it’s unquestionably a Mexican city.

To me, it just feels homier than Puerto Vallarta.

Which City Is Right For You?

If you want a quiet, lush, hillside setting that’s away from the noise of the beach area—with long ocean and sunset views—then you definitely want to head to PV.

Also, if you want outdoor, active diversions, then PV will be better for you.

Overall, Puerto Vallarta is just plain “nicer” than Mazatlán, which can be rough around the edges in some areas.

Pick Mazatlán if you want a less-touristy environment in a more Mexican city, or if you like life in the historic center. It’s the perfect spot if you want to walk for miles on an uncrowded beach, while in the city limits.

I’d say Mazatlán is better for full-time living, while PV would be better for a vacation home. Also, I think you’ll prefer Mazatlán if you’re over 55…

All analysis aside though, these cities are both good choices for a vacation- or second-home destination—depending on your preferences—and hold good opportunities for property investment.

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Mexico is a Country of Many Choices

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By Donald Murray | International Living

Mexico, didn’t become the most popular expat retirement destination for U.S. citizens by accident. For decades, visitors from north of the border have traveled south of the border, seeking affordability, great tequila, fresh guacamole…and a slower pace of life. Even those who briefly visit for a suntan and a hangover often return, year after year, and many of those vacationers choose to retire here. Mexico is perfect for retirees. From Florida, or Texas, Cancún is less than a two-hour flight, so friends and family are always close. So beware: retirees in Mexico are advised to have a spare bedroom for all the family and friends that will visit.

Some estimates indicate about 2 million U.S. residents have retired to Mexico. In fact, more U.S. retirees have chosen Mexico, above all other countries, to spend their retirement years. Using a complex, comparative matrix considering safety, health care, affordability, government stability, and a functional infrastructure, International Living selected Mexico as its number one retirement destination for 2017.

It is impossible to paint any country with one brush and Mexico is no different. Like the U.S., Mexico is a nation of regions where climate, customs, expenses, attire, and food all vary, one from another, but as a rule, Mexico is a modern country. Paved roads, modern hospitals, a stable electrical grid and functioning Internet can be found almost everywhere.

For retirees who meet the modest income requirement of about $2,100 monthly (based on current exchange rates), a permanent pensioner’s visa can usually be issued, within just a few hours. The process needs to begin in your home country/state by visiting the nearest Mexican Consulate. Once your visa has been issued and you arrive in Mexico, the second part of the process involves obtaining your national ID card. Mexico’s process is relatively painless.

Life in Mexico can be very affordable. Generally, one can live a very nice life for about 30% to 50% of what it costs north of the border. Many couples live a very comfortable life for $1,500 to $2,000 a month, all inclusive. You can certainly spend more, and some people spend less. Life along Mexico’s Pacific, Gulf, or Caribbean coastlines costs more than life inland, as it does in all countries bordered by oceans and seas. That said, it is still significantly cheaper than a comparable life up north.

From the Baja Peninsula and the gorgeous Pacific Coast, the Central Highlands all the way across the country to Mexico’s Caribbean coast and down the Yucatán Peninsula’s world-famous Riviera Maya…expats have built their retirement nests throughout this vast and wonderful nation. Many have gathered in some favored spots such as Puerto Vallarta, the southern Baja, the Lake Chapala region and colonial cities such as Mérida and San Miguel de Allende. Others, preferring a more tropical experience, have settled along the Caribbean Coast from Cancún south to Tulum, an area known as the Riviera Maya. Each of these places has been well-vetted by those who have come before, and they continue to be magnets for those seeking an affordable and stimulating retirement. And if you’re one of those who would rather blaze your own trail than follow another’s path…Mexico offers thousands of square miles filled with unspoiled towns and villages.

Honestly, the hardest part of retiring to Mexico is deciding which region, city, town or village best suits you and your lifestyle. Do you want a walkable village without the need to own a car? Perhaps Chapala, Ajijic or San Miguel would suit you. Think you might enjoy a larger, colonial city, filled with historic architecture and indigenous occupants? Consider Mérida, Valladolid or San Miguel de Allende. How about a Caribbean lifestyle closely connected to the sea? The Riviera Maya can’t be beat. Consider Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or the small village of Akumal. You can’t go wrong.

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Why You Should Move To Mexico In 2017

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By David J Pierce | Escape Artist

Mexico is already the most popular country for American and Canadian expats. Estimates put the number of expats in Mexico at well over 1 million and increasing every year. Since Trump took office, the peso has been crushed and Mexico is now very cheap for us gringos. Here’s why you should move to Mexico in 2017.

I expect the number of applications from the U.S. and Canada for residency in Mexico to significantly increase in the next two or three years… during the Trump years. Not because of the hype and hyperbole around those who want to get out of the U.S., but rather value seekers moving to a low cost country.

When I began exploring Mexico in 2000, one U.S. dollar was around ten pesos. It sat there until 2008 when it went to around 12 pesos to the dollar. As of this writing, a dollar is worth 22 pesos. This makes life very cheap in Mexico for U.S. expats and gives you a quality of life you could never afford in the States. The threat of Trump has crushed the peso. Mexico’s loss is your gain and why you should move to Mexico in 2017.

Lower costs and a higher quality of life for those moving to Mexico are especially attractive in the middle and southern regions of the country. Focus on cities Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico City and Guadalajara. The further north you go, the more good are imported from the United States, pushing up prices.

A strong dollar has the opposite effect on countries who use the dollar or peg their currency to the USD. While costs are falling throughout Latin America for Americans (and Canadians to a lesser extent) expats, residents of Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador are paying in U.S. dollars and see no benefit. Likewise, much of the Caribbean is pegged to the dollar and having a tough time.

Note that I’m not necessarily advocating you move to Mexico for the long term, or buy a home there. If you pay cash, real estate in Mexico is cheap. If you need a mortgage to afford property in Mexico, don’t do it. The weak peso is pushing up interest rates and might cause real problems in the next year or two.

I’m focused on the short term benefits of moving to Mexico during the Trump years.

Let’s look at the business reasons for moving to Mexico in 2017. Then I’ll talk about the quality of life benefits.

My two top picks as the best cities for expats are Guanajuato, Mexico and Panama City, Panama. Guanajuato being the best for retirees thinking of retiring in Mexico and those with portable businesses and Panama being the best for traditional businesses with employees. For more on this, see The World’s Best City for Expats. More on Guanajuato later.

The reason for choosing Panama for business is simple – taxation. If you operate a business with employees in Mexico, you will pay tax to Mexico on your worldwide income. Also, if you are a tax resident of Mexico, you’ll pay Mexican tax on your worldwide income. For more, take a read through Taxation of Expats in Mexico.

But there are legal ways to manage your worldwide tax exposure. For example, operating through an offshore corporation in Panama while living in Mexico, running an online business with no employees in Mexico, or being a perpetual traveler (good for Americans, not so much for Canadians).

Pro Tip for Americans: You always need to have legal residency somewhere, be it in Mexico where you spend your time or Panama where you have your corporation and banking. Foreign residency will help you qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. If not in Mexico, then consider Panama residency through investment.

All of this means that you can move to Mexico, increase your quality of life, and lower your costs by 50% to 70% compared to the United States. I don’t know how long this currency arbitrage will last, but I do know that moving to Mexico for the next few years is a great opportunity for those earning  in dollars.

Of course, moving to Mexico is not all about saving money. Finding a great value and improving your quality of life in the process are both important. Here are the other reasons to move to Mexico in 2017.

Mexico is close the to the United States, allowing you easy access for meetings and family visits. I live in San Diego, which is a 30 drive from the border and 1 hour from Rosarito. I can fly to most major cities in Mexico in a few hours. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., Mexico City and Guadalajara are even closer.

And there are some good business opportunities and resources for expats in Mexico. For example, a number of outsourcing firms have set up in Tijuana and other border towns. They call this nearshoring (rather than offshoring) because of the efficiencies realized when dealing with someone nearby. Executives often schedule meetings in the United States and can be in California in about an hour considering the border wait time.

Now for a little on the quality of life benefits of moving to Mexico in 2017.

Being from southern California, I know beautiful beaches. I can tell you from experience that the northern baja areas of Mexico, from Rosarito down, are beautiful. Parts of Rosarito remind me of La Jolla (an amazing city in San Diego), but at a fraction of the price. A small home in La Jolla will cost well over $2 million, where the same in Rosarito might be for rent at $1,500 a month. You can find beachfront or beach adjacent for as little as $500 a month.

And Mexico has some great historic cities. My favorite is the state of Guanajuato, which is a 5 hour drive north of Mexico City, so mas or menos in the center of the country. I suggest you start exploring this region in the capital of Leon, which has 1.5 million residents and great weather. Leon was founded in 1530 and has architecture dating back to the 13th century.

If Leon is to hip and modern, drive an hour to the towns of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Both are oozing with history and paved in cobblestone. Because there’s no airport, they haven’t had the rush of tourists like Leon and remain true expat paradises.

I’ll close by mentioning that healthcare is quite good in medium to large cities in Mexico. If you’re a retired expat looking to cut healthcare costs, look to southern cities in Mexico where private hospitals are cheap and often staff U.S. trained doctors.

Which is another reason I suggest the Guanajuato region of Mexico. You can live in a historic town such as San Miguel de Allende and be about one hour from good medical care in Leon.

The best two private hospitals in Leon are Hospital Angeles (my personal choice) and the Hospital Aranda de La Parra. Both have a full staff with the with good doctors and modern equipment.

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Why Mexico Is The Clear Favorite For Americans Going Abroad

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By Kathleen Peddicord | Live and Invest Overseas

8 Reasons Mexico Is North America’s Favorite Place To Retire “Overseas”

Over the past four decades, Americans have voted Mexico the world’s #1 place to live or retire in the way that really counts: They’ve packed up and moved there. This country is home to more American expats and retirees than any other, at least 1 million and as many as 2 million, depending on the survey.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s easier for an American to get to Mexico than to any other country other than Canada.

Why do Americans choose to go south of the Rio Grande rather than to the Great White North?

The weather!

Americans looking to start a new life in a new country primarily seek three things: warm weather, beautiful beaches, and a low cost of living. Mexico competes handily in all three categories.

This big, diverse country offers dozens of great living options, from colorful and historic colonial cities like San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca, Guanajuato, and Oaxaca to beach towns like Playa del Carmen and Tulum (on the Caribbean coast) and Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán (on the Pacific).

While the living is not as cheap as it was in the 1970s when Americans began migrating here in volume, it’s a global bargain and more of a budgeter’s delight right now than it’s been in a long time thanks to the U.S. dollar’s strength against the Mexican peso.

In some parts of the country, this translates to super real estate deals. But even where real estate trades in U.S. dollars (as it does in many Mexican markets, including Mazatlán), the strong dollar makes everything else—from a liter of gasoline and a week’s worth of groceries to a suite of bedroom furniture and a night out on the town—a bargain. Two can dine five star, enjoying three courses and good wine, for less than 50 bucks.

7 More Reasons To Choose Mexico

  • The country is familiar, from its administrative set-up (the Mexican government is a stable democracy, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches functioning in a similar way to those in the United States) to its big-footprint shopping. If you’re itching for an adventure in a foreign land that’s not too foreign, Mexico could be the experience you seek.
  • It’s easy to go back and forth, making it a top choice for part-time living. Drive down as often as you like without worrying about plane fare.
  • All the North American attention from both expats and tourists means that many Mexicans, especially in the service industry, speak English. This can make things like navigating the residency process at the immigration office and managing the real estate purchase process with your attorney much easier.
  • Property markets in many areas of Mexico are depressed. The Great Recession took its toll in this country, especially in the areas popular as second home markets among Americans. Many still have not fully recovered, making for a nice buyer’s advantage.
  • Automatic six-month tourist stays and easy and fast immigration make it possible to come and go and spend as much time in the country as you’d like. You can maintain a second home here (a place you rent out when you’re not using it yourself, say) without having to bother with the expense of obtaining formal resident status.
  • Moving to Mexico can be as hassle-free as an international move gets. Nothing’s as easy as loading up a truck and driving south. Your entire moving budget could be gas and tolls.
  • You can return easily to the United States to use Medicare. If you’re considering this move as a retiree, nearing or over the age of 65, this can be Mexico’s most compelling advantage. Mexico offers excellent healthcare, but Medicare won’t pay for it—with limited exceptions, Medicare doesn’t cross any border. However, if you retire in Mexico, you’d be only a drive or quick flight away from accessing your benefits.

This means keeping and continuing to pay for Medicare coverage in addition to any other health insurance you might opt for. This can be a good strategy for a Medicare-eligible retiree moving to any foreign country, a safety net.

Of course, Mexico is an interesting and appealing option for reinventing your life at any age. It’s also a big, diverse place, offering many attractive lifestyle choices, including…

  • Mazatlán: If you don’t want to choose between living in a city and living at the beach, in Mazatlán you don’t have to…
  • San Miguel de Allende: The best of Mexico’s Spanish-colonial heritage and a charming, lively place to spend time, voted the world’s #1 city by Conde Nast Traveler
  • The Riviera Maya: If you seek quintessential Caribbean… on a shoestring or a luxury budget… Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast is calling your name…
  • Guanajuato: The crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities, oozing romance at every turn…
  • La Bahia de Navidad: Situated on Mexico’s Costa Alegre (“Christmas Bay on the Happy Coast”), La Bahia de Navidad is a super affordable, small-town version of up-scale Puerto Vallarta four hours to the north. With a Mexican population of just a few thousand friendly folks, the 500 or so full-time expats integrate easily into the two main towns on the bay…

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